How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good – Part 2

The Conscious Group - How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good: Part 2

Continuing the list of How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good.

Clearly, finding a good real estate agent is an issue. If  you google “how to find a good real estate agent,” you mostly find articles on how to identify a bad real estate agent… and for good reason. There are more shitheads in the real estate industry than in the White House. (As we all remember, Donald Trump started out in real estate… sigh…) Fact is, when you find a great real estate agent, they will earn every dime of their money.

Have you read Part 1?

Here are the second 4 ways to know that you have found a good real estate agent:

5) They are emotionally intelligent.

Real estate agents will need to be able to use various styles of negotiation over time and will need to have the emotional intelligence to know which negotiation tactics will be useful in different situations. A lot of real estate agents, or humans in general, only know one style of negotiation. Some are incredibly nice, some use a “take it or leave it” approach. If an agent is accustomed to working in the city and then needs to work with clients in a small town in the mountains, they will likely need to take a different approach in their negotiations because the super intense Gordon Gecko shit is going to freak the mountain people out. They live in the mountains for a reason – to get away from loud crazy people. Furthermore, some clients will require their agent to take a hard-headed approach to negotiations, whereas other clients prefer to keep things mellow.

A good real estate agent will also know when to push you or when to back off. Some clients may find the perfect home for them and they are afraid to commit. A good real estate agent will know the area and know if this client has found a rare gem and that now is the time to jump on it! And other times, if the client isn’t quite ready yet, if the agent knows the area well, they can assure their clients that another home with that little extra “something” will come along soon.

6) Your agent pretty much always responds to you in a timely manner.

Things happen quickly in real estate. The Denver real estate market moves incredibly quickly and if home-buyers can’t view the property right away, it will go under contract pretty quickly if it’s priced correctly.

Furthermore, a lot of home-buyers and sellers get kind of freaked out during the process. I started noticing this while helping my friends with their real estate deals. Since I know how they are on a normal day, I have seen some of my most mellow friends start to lose their shit when they’ve had to buy or sell homes. Moving can be a huge stressor. There are a lot of moving parts (cheesy pun intended) and unfamiliar concepts during a real estate transaction. This can be very upsetting for Capricorns who like to understand every step of the process as though they actually are a real estate agent. If you have an agent who responds to you quickly, it can help to put your mind at ease if you have a question that’s burning a hole in your brain.

It can be tough to know what to look for in a good real estate agent.

7) They’re proactive.

A lot of issues can be avoided by planning ahead. Surprises will always come up, but a good real estate agent will foresee the majority of potential problems in advance and at least give you a warning.  If your home doesn’t sell quickly for asking price, this agent is looking ahead to see what additional marketing they could add or if there are any quick and easy fixes to an issue that may be deterring potential home-buyers. If you are a home-buyer who is having a difficult time finding a home in your price range, a good real estate agent will be constantly creating new ways to find you a home in a competitive market. If you are purchasing a home, a good real estate agent will ensure that you are thoroughly inspecting the home and will have helped you carefully craft your offer so that you haven’t offered more than what the home will appraise for.

8) They’re honest with you, sometimes painfully so.

Every real estate agent has to be the bearer of bad news from time to time. We don’t look forward to this, but if we are truly being loyal to you and doing the best job we possibly can, then we have to do it, no matter how bad it hurts.

Maybe your dogs have used the carpet as a latrine one too many times, and you can’t smell it because you’re used to it. No one wants to tell you that your home smells bad, but if we are going to sell your home for top dollar, it needs to be free of pervasive odors. Maybe you feel incredibly soothed by your chocolate brown walls, but a lot of buyers prefer a warm light gray and we can sell your home for more money if you repaint your walls a more neutral color. Maybe you have spent your entire adult life working on your Star Wars figurine collection, but it’s not likely to photograph well or be attractive to buyers, so we might need to put Princess Leia in storage. Maybe we just found out that your last real estate agent sold you the home without doing a thorough inspection and now you are on the hook for $10,000 to replace your sewer line. Maybe your home just isn’t worth as much as you thought it was. Maybe your mom did real estate for 40 years and has now given you advice that is incorrect and we have to tell you that your mom is wrong. Seriously, my dearest client… I would rather stab myself in the eye than tell you that your darling mother is incorrect. All of this sucks. But if we are doing our jobs to the best of our ability, we will be honest with you even when it hurts.

The good news is that great real estate agents exist! You don’t just have to put up with an agent who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. If you don’t feel right with the first agent who you’ve met, interview some others until you find an agent who can provide you with a positive experience.

Want a Fantastic Agent instead of a Problem Agent?  Give us a call at 303-908-9873.  

Make sure you read Part 1 of How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good.

How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good – Part 1

The Conscious Group - How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good: Part 1

Clearly, finding a good real estate agent is an issue. If  you google “how to find a good real estate agent,” you mostly find articles on how to identify a bad real estate agent… and for good reason. There are more shitheads in the real estate industry than in the White House. (As we all remember, Donald Trump started out in real estate… sigh…) Fact is, when you find a great real estate agent, they will earn every dime of their money.

A lot of agents will have practiced convincing scripts that are designed to get you to hire them. These scripts are formulated to be effective and many real estate agents play the numbers game. “If you talk to X amount of people using Y tactic in Z amount of time, you are likely to earn A.” For instance, these agents will use your name regularly throughout the conversation because that is a proven tactic to get people to like you… (I outlined a lot of the talking points included in these scripts in a previous series of posts, “Shit Real Estate Agents Say To Get You To Hire Them.”)

You are not a number, you are a person and you should be treated as such. A good real estate agent isn’t going to use a bunch of crappy tactics to get your business. A good real estate agent will be honest with you. They will be authentic. They won’t have to utilize a script, but rather, will be able to have a conversation. They will show how they can be of service to you. A good real estate agent will earn your business.

As a consumer, it can be tough to know what to look for in a good real estate agent.

Real estate transactions truly are a convoluted process. In some cases, a consumer may be able to sell or purchase a home without the help of a real estate agent and not lose money, but those situations are few and far between. Most often, you need a (good) real estate agent. A good real estate agent will be able to gain your business without the bullshit… unless you enjoy falling for bullshit. Some people do and that’s ok. And some of you lovely people tend to succumb to pressure… or you want to believe the best in people and take what they say at face value.

Here are the first 4 ways to know that you have found a good real estate agent:

1) You feel comfortable around them.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been showing properties when another group of potential home-buyers enters who look miserable and awkward with their agent. I have seen agents stop everything to give their clients a history of residential electricity during moments that were completely out of context. I have seen agents mistakenly telling their clients that the floors are original hardwoods, when they’re clearly not only not original, but are made of manufactured product. Often, clients look like they have to “behave” around their realtor, like they are with their boss or are meeting their partner’s family for the first time.

You should not have to “behave” around your realtor. They are working for you, not vice versa. Whatever it takes for you to feel comfortable, whether you need to speak your mind freely, ask a million questions, vent about the process, breastfeed your child, or have a bowel movement, this is your time. You are buying or selling a house, dammit. It’s kind of a big deal. There should be no walking on eggshells – only honesty and communication.

If an agent is just coming at you with a sales pitch when you first meet, you are likely to feel uncomfortable. Get out there. When a good real estate agent meets with you for the first time, they will address how they can best meet your needs – not what supposedly makes them so much more special than any other agent.

Furthermore, consider this: if a real estate agents comes across to you as off-putting, how will the other side perceive them when it comes time to negotiate? If you are a home-buyer in a competitive market like the Denver metro area, sellers will be less likely to accept your offer if your realtor comes across as difficult or obnoxious.

2) They listen (instead of constantly running their mouth.)

This should be really obvious, but apparently, it’s not. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people tell horror stories about realtors who simply didn’t listen throughout the course of their transaction. If an agent doesn’t listen to their clients, how are they going to achieve their objectives? If an agent isn’t listening to a home-seller, they may miss some key information about your property that will help it to sell for top dollar. Or if an agent isn’t listening to a home-buyer, they may waste their time by showing them a lot of homes that they aren’t interested in.

Some of my recent clients fired their previous agent to work with me. Among the many things that their previous agent did wrong, she didn’t listen. My clients explained to their previous agent during the inspection period that if the sellers didn’t fix the problems with the property, they were not interested in moving forward with the transaction. Period. Simple. They clearly expressed this to their agent, yet their agent ignored their wishes and continued to pressure her clients into moving forward with the transaction. What their agent should have done would have been to apply that same pressure to the home-sellers to fix the problems that the buyers desired. This agent clearly forgot who she worked for, and also, she simply didn’t listen. I assure you, these particular clients communicated very clearly and effectively. If she would have listened to her clients and understood that they meant what they said, she would have earned her commission. Instead, I got to pick up some clients who were already familiar with the market and already knew exactly what they wanted. All I had to do was my job, while they lavished praise upon me. They even bought me a sweater.

The good news is that great real estate agents exist!

3) They ask questions.

Not only do they ask questions, they ask good questions. How long do you want to stay in this home? What are your ideal goals for this property? Do you have the resources or the desire for a fixer-upper? Do you plan on staying at your job for a long time and if not, where might your job move? Which is more important – being near your work or being near your play? Will living near a busy street bother you? You’ve mentioned loving dogs – do you plan to get one (or many?) You mentioned wanting top dollar for your home – are you willing to paint the home, since “burnt sienna” has not been in style since 1993?

You may have your mind bogged down with this process, but a good real estate agent is like a detective. They will anticipate and meet your needs for many years to come by asking the right questions.

Many of my clients who are relocating to Denver need guidance on neighborhoods and areas. Most realtors just begin suggesting popular neighborhoods to their clients.  Here’s the thing: every neighborhood in Denver is popular these days and LoHi isn’t for everyone. I simply ask clients what their neighborhoods were like in their previous city and ask them what they did and didn’t like about their old neighborhood. I then use that information to guide my clients in which neighborhoods may work for them in Denver. We then drive around to various areas that could be a good match before we ever view homes.

4) They are here to serve their client, rather than themselves.

Real estate is supposed to be a service industry, but a lot of agents make the mistake of believing that they are in sales because they “sell” homes. Here’s the thing: the homes have to sell themselves, (although we can certainly showcase them in their best light.) Yet a lot of agents working with buyers push their clients to purchase homes that aren’t right for them, so they can close the deal and move on to something else. I understand why they do this – if the buyers don’t purchase this home, it could be several more months before they finally do purchase a home, which takes a lot of time and energy. The agents may simply need money now, so they push their clients to move more quickly than the situation calls for. Or listing agents may not get top dollar for their sellers, because that requires a lot more work. And yes – this stuff does take a lot of work. I have absolutely had days where I spend a lot of time winning a relatively small amount of money for my clients. It’s not necessarily a fun or relaxing way to spend a Tuesday – but if it’s important to their clients, a good real estate agent will make it a priority and do their best to achieve the desired outcome.

Want a Fantastic Agent instead of a Problem Agent?  Give us a call at 303-908-9873.  

Check back next week for more on How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good.

Should I Search For Homes on Zillow?

willy-wonka-zestimate

Do NOT trust “Zestimates.”

Maybe the Zestimate for your home’s value will be correct… I would say they are correct about 20% of the time by accident. The other 80% of the time, they are WRONG. Sometimes Zestimates are higher than your homes value, sometimes they are lower. I have seen them be off by $100,000 on a $300,000 home! Point being, there currently is no technology that can correctly assess a home’s value. It’s best to get a good realtor to give you a Broker Price Opinion for your home’s value and we are happy to provide those for people at any time. (Note: a Broker Price Opinion is NOT an appraisal, nor are realtors qualified to provide you with a home appraisal unless they are also a licensed appraiser.)

With that being said, we have also run into tons of problems with our clients shopping for homes on Zillow.

At Conscious Real Estate, we like to refer to Zillow (or it’s best friend, Trulia) as “The Heartbreaker.”  Why? Most often, when our clients find homes on Zillow or Trulia, the home has been under contract for quite awhile. We have seen numerous cases where the home has sold months prior. 

Here, we’ll break down what the MLS system is and how it is the only system to use when looking for your new home…

MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service and is endorsed by the National Association of Realtors. The system originated in the 1800’s when real estate agents would get together and share information on the properties that they had available.

Over time, more and more realtors joined the National Association of Realtors and as technology advanced over the last century, the service became digital.

Also over time, and with the advent on the Internet, also came commercial businesses trying to emulate the MLS by way of Trulia, Zillow and the many others out there. Unlike the MLS, Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com are not regulated by any oversight such as the National Association of Realtors.

They are called “aggregate syndicators” in the industry because essentially, they are just media companies who take the legitimate information (and often copyrighted photos and more) from the MLS system and duplicate the listing on their site. The “suggested realtors” that appear on the sidebar for these properties are simply agents who are paying for advertising with them – not the agent on record and usually an agent who has no idea they are being suggested for that property – they simply showed up there due to the program’s marketing algorithms.

Additionally, realtors know they don’t have to follow the rules on Zillow.  If a realtor posts her listings on Zillow, she can leave it up for as long as she likes with no regulation.  Interested buyers will see this property, get excited, and call the realtor.

The realtor then informs the prospective buyer, “I’m so sorry. This home is under contract, but I can certainly help you find something similar.” See what she did there? She just got a new client from Zillow, by being sneaky. On the MLS, properties must have their status updated very quickly and realtors can’t play such reindeer games.

Further, these aggregate syndicators take listings from wherever they can find them. Take this case study for example from Geoffrey Shiering, a San Diego real estate agent and California broker:

“I’ve personally published a “house for sale” advertisement on Craigslist (a home that was not on the MLS), and in less than 24 hours the property description and photos that I’d posted on Craigslist were being displayed alongside my local San Diego MLS listings on Zillow. Anyone can publish anything on Craigslist, whether it’s real, fake, exaggerated, or a downright scam. And when Zillow displays unverified, junk information right alongside MLS listings, the public assumes that the junk is just as accurate as the MLS data.”

Unbelievable. So, before you spend all your time researching online, contact your local real estate agent and tell them what you’re looking for so that they can get you accurate, real-time listings and get you on track for that new home you’ve been longing for.

If you have any questions about the MLS or want to start getting notifications, contact us here and we’ll get in touch with you right away. Just let us know some of the details (how many baths, bedrooms, fenced yard, neighborhoods, open floor plan, price range etc.) and how often you want to receive notifications by email. You can choose from daily, weekly or monthly and can always change the frequency as well.

And, when you purchase a home with Conscious Real Estate, you will be making a positive impact on your community. We donate 10% of our own commission to a nonprofit of your choice. Find a home, make a difference – that’s the way we do business.

 

5 Tips for Selling Your Home in Denver in the Spring

potted plant, gardening tool, gloves, paint brush & paint can

Spring weather can be a challenge if you are selling your home in Denver. One day will be warm, the next day may bring snow. The weather may be windy, sunny, or both. As a seller, you need to take advantage of the season’s offerings to bring offers in.  This is time right before the market heats up and you want your home to stand out among the competition!

1)  First, it is time to begin taking care of your lawn – your lawn is the outdoor’s carpet. Landscaping makes a big difference when you are selling your home!  Hard rake, fertilize, and aerate your lawn now. Doing so will cost $75. The best time to do so are just before a spring snow, or during a warm period when you can water.  This brings us to the next point – water. Take advantage of the warmer days, and water your grass. It is not advisable to turn on a sprinkler system just yet, but a $10 oscillating sprinkler for 20 minutes will do the trick. (Don’t forget to unhook your hose when complete as to not freeze your pipes!) A great tip I learned is to use an organic green pigment to make your lawn seem greener than your neighbors. You can do this for mulch beds as well.

2)  Since the grass is dormant, now is a good time to edge the sidewalks and along the driveway, if edges along fences and concrete walkways and patios are neglected. Cut overgrowth now, and use a turkey baster to gently distribute spent cooking oil to prevent future weed and grass growth. Remember, do not let this oil come in contact with fences and plants as it might stain or kill.

3)  Revive your mulched garden by fertilizing and watering as you would with your lawn. To revive sun-bleached mulch, purchase an attachment for your hose diffuser. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, and shake regularly as you spray only the mulch. A leaf blower and a hose will remove dirt, debris, and revive rock beds.

4)  Colorado temperature extremes are also hard on concrete. Your local home improvement store will have caulk and concrete fillers that will preserve soil related cracks in cement stairs, patios, and driveways for less than $100.

5)  Finally, bring out the plants!  Temperature resistant plants like petunias can go in the ground, and less hardy tulips and lilies in your existing planters which can be covered or brought inside during the inevitable cold spell.

If you would like assistance with buying or selling your home in Colorado, please contact Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 to get started!  Remember, Conscious Real Estate always contributes 10% of all commissions to the nonprofit of your choice.

7 Mistakes Home Sellers Make – What NOT to do when selling your home

3D render Depicting Declining Property Prices

1)  Home sellers want to put the home on the market before it’s ready.  Sellers become impatient, OR procrastinate and push themselves too close to the moving deadline without getting the pre-sale work done. So they list their home with the horrible carpet or they are painting it while it goes on the market. Presentation is everything — so get the work done before marketing the property.  Every realtor has had a buyer refuse to purchase a home because they didn’t like the paint, even though it’s a super easy fix!

 2)  Home Sellers over-improve the home for the neighborhood. This happens with additions, bump outs, and upgrades that make the home stick out from among its competitors so much that it’s an anomaly, instead of a nice addition to the community.  In less desirable neighborhoods, most buyers won’t care about the custom kitchen and hottub.  They want the desirable location, and will install their own features.

 3)  Home Sellers want to price the home based on what they wish to net. This pricing strategy usually ends in failure. Sellers can control the asking price, but they cannot control the sale price. The market does. It doesn’t matter what the seller wants, the price is determined by the black-and-white, matter-of-fact reality of the market.

 4)  Home Sellers may hire an agent based on non-business factors. Make sure you’re hiring a professional with a proven track record or at least is genuinely passionate to help you!  It might be nice to hand over your largest asset to your nephew who just got his license, but make sure his employing broker works closely with him to keep your deal from going south.

 5)  Home Sellers become emotionally involved in the sale of their home. This is one of the biggest challenges home sellers face when putting their house on the market. Once you decide to sell your house, it’s no longer your home, but a commodity. It needs to be prepared as a commodity, marketed as a commodity, and priced as a commodity. It doesn’t matter what you “want,” only what the market can bear on pricing. People are going to come in to kick the tires, so to speak, and you can’t take it personally if they don’t appreciate the charms that you have enjoyed in your home.

 6)  Home Sellers try to cover up problems, or not disclose them. Most states have a property disclosure/disclaimer form — use it wisely. Just because you disclaim doesn’t mean you cannot be sued for the leaky basement or the problematic plumbing system that’s discovered 30 days after settlement.

 7)  Home Sellers fail to get their ducks in a row before trying to sell. This could involve financing issues, not reading the fine print on your current mortgage to ensure no pre-payment penalties, not investigating their local market, etc.  If your local market is dictating lower home prices, then lower the price early, not later — it will cost you more. 

Avoid these seller mistakes and many others by choosing to work with a Conscious Real Estate agent when you sell your home. To contact one of our agents, call 303-908-9873 or email our owner, Allison Parks, at allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

Denver Housing Market – Summer 2013

The houses

As our much anticipated summer kicks off, the Denver housing has become increasingly hot! 

Anyone currently buying a home in the Denver market no doubt has noticed how quickly things are selling, with multiple offers being made and accepted within a day of two of listing.  Many recent home sales have sold above asking price as the result of bidding wars.  All of this is the result of an influx of new home buyers and a shortage of sellers within the local market.

Denver’s Chief Economist, Jeff Romine, reports that 12,250 new jobs were created in 2012, unemployment has dropped almost 2% since 2011, construction is on the upswing, and consumerism has shown significant evidence of an increase.  Oh yeah, and he reports that Denver’s housing market is among the strongest in the nation with home values up 8.3% from last year.  Yes, Denver’s economy has improved. 

In fact, Denver’s economy never took as hard a hit as many U.S. cities during the recession.  Couple this with the fact we have a fun, healthy city adjacent to the majestic Rocky Mountains attracting a population of active professionals, and it should be no surprise that housing demand has been on the rise. 

So… what does this mean for home buyers and sellers?

For buyers, “sleeping on it” may not be the best approach to deciding on whether to submit an offer on your dream home.  I have had recent experiences with clients who saw a home they loved only to have missed out on the opportunity by simply taking a night or two to think things over.  It is imperative to be pre-qualified for financing and have earnest money available to submit an offer immediately when the right home presents itself.  Buyers will also gain a huge benefit by having a realtor represent them who has access to industry databases that provide immediate updates with new listings and comparable sales data that may not be available on public sites.  To the extent that bidding wars have become commonplace, having a realtor advise you utilizing their familiarity with market statistics may also prove key in making a reasonable and successful offer.  Buyers should also be aware that mortgage rates have increased recently as a result of a strengthened national economy and that there is speculation the Federal Reserve Board is contemplating an increase to the prime rate, meaning that historically low interest rates could soon increase.

For sellers, the strengthened economy, increase in local housing demand and prices, and short supply has created the most seller-friendly environment Denver has seen in ages!  Yet not many people are selling their homes.  Perhaps Denver’s home-owners haven’t received the memo that housing prices have surged 10-20%, or remain hopeful they will continue to appreciate.  Maybe the recession has made people more cautious, so they are reluctant to sell and upgrade to a larger home and mortgage payment.  Maybe folks finally got the color of that accent wall right and they don’t want to mess with a good thing.  Whatever the case, prices have continued to rise and comparable statistics from recent sales over the year or so may not be applicable to current valuations, making it important that you work with a knowledgeable real estate professional.  It is also possible that rising housing prices could eventually plateau given the influx of new large scale construction occurring in the Denver metro area, such that increased housing prices may not continue indefinitely and there has never been a better time to sell.

If you are considering buying or selling, I’d look forward to discussing your situation and assisting you in any way possible. Please call Allison at 303-908-9873 or email allison@theconsciousgroup.com.